Calling All French-Speaking Women

And men, too, if you can provide some clarity.

I haven’t seen anything to give me clear distinction between the two adjectives beau (feminine belle) and joli (feminine jolie). So can anyone give me some clarity between these two? Which would you rather be called, identified or described as? All I have is that both can fit the bill for saying a woman is “pretty”.

Why is this even a question? Well, English has independent adjectives used of “beauty” for men, “handsome”, and women, “pretty” or “beautiful”. It even feels awkward to say “beauty” in regards to men, in all seriousness! If you tried to call a woman “handsome”, it would be quite insulting, suggesting a lack of femininity in their physical appearance. At the same time, if you described a man as “pretty” you might be thought questioning their sexual preference, mocking them for lacking maturity (treating their physical appearance as a window to their character), or just plain insulting them.

I just can’t imagine anyone calling a man “beautiful”. It would just be awkward, without really saying anything positive or insulting. Just inappropriate. Then there is the word “cute”, which can be applied to pets and children (frequently) or the opposite sex, though it would not be used as frequently within committed relationships. It frequently says more about interest or sexual appeal than it does about actual appearance (IMO).

So, any thoughts?



About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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1 Response to Calling All French-Speaking Women

  1. Paul D. says:

    The forums are often a good source of vocabulary discussions.

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